“Is this a joke? Mister Caroll would roll over in his grave,” Ted said.
I had a feeling it wasn’t, and had the feeling he wouldn’t. At least he probably wouldn’t if he was into what appeared to be lesbian mole queens making out behind the throne. Someone out there had to have this fetish.
Stranger still, was that I had seen more disgusting imagery before. My prior attempt at using bleach to clean the image from my eyeballs had failed. Some weird version of reverse Jesus who could turn any liquid into water ruined that one.
I’m not even kidding. At least I don’t think I am. It’s getting harder to remember the different events as time goes on. You would think all these exciting moments would be clear as a bell, but at some point everything started to feel mundane. It was all just matter of fact and I had been wondering for a few hours if maybe Ted was right. Maybe I had lost my sanity at some point but never really noticed. It felt kind of good to contemplate not worrying about what happened and just roll with the punches. At least until we stumbled upon this.
“Do you see what they’re doing with their tongues?” Ted asked.
“Best show Wonderland could ever offer,” I said.
The Alice actually looked at me with disgust for the first time in ever. Part of me wondered if we were making progress until Ted decided to help. Typical, right?
“He’s being sarcastic, the poor boy’s cracked and can’t help himself.” He had been relatively low key on the accents this entire trip. Maybe even Ted ran out of steam at some point. Going from that fight with General, Ice Princess, the bridge car crash, a robbery, and being drugged all in the span of a few days had to be more than he normally dealt with.
I expected my life to be different of course. If I was lucky then maybe Sunday would land me somewhere with a television and I could finish watching last season’s Idol show. My eyes lost focus as I tried to remember who had been singing last. It was a guy who hit the high notes, and honestly I suspected he was augmented despite the rules against such self-modifications for the show.
“What do we do?” Ted asked.
“We kill them, and then burn the corpses,” The Alice said then she glanced back me again for a moment. “Quickly, before Adam’s purity is ruined.”
My gaze had settled on the disgusting mess of two large hairy creatures with big heads making out awkwardly and I started to realize that they didn’t even phase me. The idea that I wasn’t disturbed actually bothered me more than the sight itself. Their extra-large heads were probably the worst part. Colored fur took a back seat.
“Or, we leave, and never talk about this again,” I suggested.
“No. Escaping from a Wonderland is only temporary Adam,” her voice actually turned sweet as I turned to look at her. The poor girl, who in their right mind would have anything to do with me? The edge of her smile still looked more than a touch psychotic, but the drugs had started to fade again.
“Maybe for you. Ted’s never had the pleasure of being in this branch of heaven.”
“Well, that’s probably for the best.” The Alice said before her features brightened. “Then it can be just us all alone in paradise!”
Us, and the next nightmare version of a classic children’s tale. Heaven this wasn’t. I would probably be free for at least four months before some other twisted realm captured me for a week or two. You know what they say, no rest for the - well no rest for me, whatever adjective applies. No rest for the sarcastic, maybe?
“The time has come.” Ted started stepping out. “The time has come!” the news anchor said. “To stop this silly thing!” The man laughed with a short bubble of amusement. Ted’s unstealthy approach had crossed half the throne like cavern. “My dear ladies, perhaps you would be so kind-”
Both ladies, if the word can be applied to giant mole people weighing at least three pounds with some ugly teeth, opened their mouths wide. Yellow and brown slobber arched a line between their maws. At that moment I sure found the crystals up above pretty to look at.
“Who goes there!” the white one yelled. She had the tiniest crown that looked like a half chewed ring of daisies. Her ears twitched rapidly and nose sniffled at air.
“Interlopers from the outer realms!” yelled the Red Queen, or King, I wasn’t sure how they wanted to be titled anymore. Seeing them make out violently had pretty much shattered my brain.
“I’ll take care of them my love!” The Alice ran out quickly.
“No! We should try a peaceful approach, I’m sure these fine ladies can be reasoned with!” Ted shouted at the woman who had rapidly caught up. The Alice lifted out two gleaming blades, spun past Ted’s attempted screening maneuver and straight towards the two formally necking mole people.
I had a moment to reflect on the insane actions with a detached acceptance, then a bud of happiness. That day I learned that The Alice is kind of sexy looking when she’s dashing off into the wild yonder to fight mole people. The reason was a mixture of her running away from me, out to kill my self-appointed nemesis, and a nice ass. The latter was far more obvious when she wasn’t tilting her head at me or chasing me with stalker creepy music.
Where was the music? My head tilted as a theme song kicked in from nowhere. Battle music made me happily bobble around in time to the dashing sounds of cymbals and drums.The Alice’s blades clashed against two long gooey wands. My stomach shook as I tried to figure out where they had been a moment before, then I realized there were things no one sane should think about.
“We should talk!” Ted shouted. “Ladies, what would you say motivates you to betray your kingdoms?”
“You don’t talk to Wonderland creatures,” The Alice’s words were ground out with a tight jaw. Her body jerked to one side to avoid a shower of small pellets coming from the Red Queen’s wand tip. The sight, disturbed me, a lot. “You kill them before they mess with your head!”
Hearing music whenever The Alice was around alluded to my ongoing dive to insanity. Years of this were finally starting to catch up. I stood thirty feet away rubbing my face with a free hand. Sparks went off from the wands as ambiguous spells lanced around the room. The Alice sat in the middle of both queens slashing around her and scoring a lot of near misses.
One had didn’t do anything to make me feel better. I scratched an arm, eyed energy bolts flying around, and otherwise felt uninterested in the outcome. The only person here who would be in danger was Ted, and that idiot had proven incapable of self-preservation. Moles didn’t count.
Ted wasn’t in outright danger. The man moved backward then shoved one of those red orbs into the ground. His camera scanned around the room filming an increasingly destroyed room. He also started flicking through suits, before landing on an inky black and white combination.
I lowered my eyebrows, what on earth possessed him to wear the TeleGraph get up at this juncture? He pulled out a second blue colored laser beam and a whirling sound kicked in. Both the guns he now had were charging up.
So, you know what I did? I blinked a lot and wondered how this disaster might end. Would Ted’s suddenly aggressive demeanor end in a blown up base? Would The Alice turn and hack into the closest thing I had to a friend aside from the lawyer? Maybe Ted would die and give me some last wish to pass on to an ex-wife. He did seem like the type to have a few in his past.
Both queens were blasted mid beam, both with one hand on a wand and the other clasped together. Then I had new thoughts as Ted’s duel freeze ray barfed out a few more gobs off. First, I really wanted some of those weapons. Second, the pair of queens, despite being one of the most aggravating creatures to walk this planet, were kind of a sad couple. Third, I had to pee. That might have been from the blast of cold air.
“Excellent! I’ll finish them off, then you can leave me and my Adam alone!” The Alice stomped across the room slowly.
I puffed my cheeks out in thought while trying to figure out when she had been knocked back. Ted didn’t seem to care but instead pointed both whirring guns in her direction. The Alice’s eyes went wide and she started shouting out “You’re with that whore-“ as a fresh layer of ice formed around her body making her teeth chatter.
“Adam!” The Alice cried. Ice encasing her body started to crack, and Ted zapped her with two more blasts. Air slammed into her then even her head sat frozen mid plead.
“Brilliant,” I said with my head reeled back and one eye closed. “That won’t backfire.”
“Release us fat hairless worm!” the mole person in red shouted. Her giant face looked disturbingly comical as it twitched in outrage.
“Now listen here varmints,” Ted said in a western accent. The change from his normal European tones threw me off. “All I wanted was to ask some questions, friendly like.”
“Let us go, please!”
Oh dear god, the white queen, mole, vaguely female contraception actually sounded sweet and innocent. I groaned then for the tenth time today tried to wish reality away.
“We should find the exit, and go,” I suggested to Ted. “That would be a smart thing.”
“How are you so blasé about this?”
“Blast hey?” I didn’t understand the word.
“Blasé, pick up a dictionary,” he repeated himself and actually lowered both guns slightly. His forehead lowered and eyes squinted in disgust. “Good lord, do you really end up in places like this so often? We’re in an adaption of Lewis Carroll's work and you just want to walk out calmly?”
Was he serious? I shrugged. This was just another Monday or Friday the thirteenth. No, those got really weird, this was a Sunday. Dammit, I was missing Pier Fourteen for this. I had to know if Juliette and Romaine ever got married and who the father of Juliette’s baby really was. Romaine was clearly impotent so the smart bet was his brother.
“Free us before I have your head removed!” the large red faced one yelled. The coloration was mostly in her short fur.
“That’s it. We’re getting out of here, and I’m getting you a camera, something you can’t destroy. I don’t even care if the other two argue anymore.” Ted rubbed his ear before we both turned to the queens. They were still protesting, one loudly with violent sounding threats and the other simply pled. He kept talking, “There’s no way we can simply let so much ongoing activity pass by without being record.”
“Right, journalistic motivations are always pure.”
“What?” Ted’s head wiggled back and forth in denial. “No, of course not. We sell action footage for money. What a silly idea, journalistic integrity. No, not in the slightest young man, money is the root of all necessity.”
“I thought it was the root of all evil.”
The man looked at me with his face comically framed by the Telegraph black and white helmet. His lips curled then he said, “Really, where do you get such nonsensical ideas? You people today, it’s like you’ve never opened a book.”
“I had issues completing school, you know, because they kept blowing up,” I said, but Ted wasn’t listening.
The two queens were both oddly quiet during our last exchange. They were glancing towards each other and their joined frozen fingers creaked. Muffled sparks melted some ice inside their prison. Ted sighed and hit The Alice again with another fresh layer.
Battle music had transformed into screaming incoherencies that lingered in the background of my mind. Maybe she was psychic, or whatever madness fueled her life simply poured into mine from frequent near death interactions. Maybe I existed in her mind as a recurring character, and maybe the only male which could lead to infatuation.
Ted was asking the queen’s questions and they were refusing to answer. The red one kept threatened while the white one tried to sound reasonable. Their faces and coloring lined up well with their attitudes, fiery anger and passive white purity. If only they hadn’t been, whatever they were.
“Killlllll.” Rumbling sound filled the room as ice started to crack. The two queen’s eyes went wide. Blue flashed by and slammed into The Alice again. Her angry background music simmered down but irate sounding tone kept going.
“That’s not going to end well,” I said while looking around. The roof really was quite attractive. It beat seeing The Alice’s frozen form. Her hair looked wild and snakelike and there was a budding red glow deep within the eyes.
“She’s a straightforward lady,” Ted looked at me and waved over the guns. “All I’ll need to do is hold you hostage until we reach an agreement.”
“You’re going to hold me hostage?” Evil stalker music was starting to thump through. I edged towards the throne room stairs that went towards a balcony.
“We’ve been over there, I can’t lie. So when I say I’ll do something, I mean I will do just that.”
My lips pressed together. “Nothing wrong with that plan.”
“You can stop her?” the white one spoke loudly for the first time. “Then I implore you to do so! We can’t be free until she is defeated forever!”
“Off with her head! Before she makes us dead!” the red queen shouted in a nearly rabid squeak. The ice cracked around her and Ted raised an eyebrow while studying the lines.
“Oh now you two ladies want to talk,” Ted said in a high pitched voice used for the villain Telegraph. “I knew you would, with the right motivation! Where are my robots?”
“In another castle,” I answered while reviewing my mental map of the exits. There were probably potions of questionable effect somewhere in the castle. One might put me to sleep and I could just ride out the rest of this with a nap.
“Why do you even care about her?” Ted ignored my clever answered.
“She is the enemy! If she left we would have peace again between our kingdoms!” the red queen chattered angrily while the one one nodded.
“I’m going to get out of here, then kill you all. Then no one will be between me and my love anymore.” The Alice said quietly.
I jumped as her words registered. She had freed her head and was working out an arm. Her block of ice slowly inched towards us.
Ted held his freeze ray up and pointed it calmly. Then he even asked The Alice a question. At the time I was looking for an exit, sanity, or a better name to call her. The Alice was mind numbing.
“Did you ever think that maybe this place isn’t really Wonderland?” Ted asked.
“It is. It always is, I only exist in Wonderland,” The Alice yelled back.
My future boss pursed his lips and tapped the gun to the side of his face. He glanced at the sharp blade struggling to get free. The floating eye bot swung around to get a better view on the pair.
“Okay, let's try another question. Why knives? Why not an axe? Or a hammer. I’ve seen some delightful fighters use hammers.”
“Yeah! Reminder her she has sharp objects!” I shouted. The oncoming trainwreck this was about to be couldn’t be stopped. None of them ever could.
“Knives are easier to hide,” her hand broke free and a blade flew out towards the weapon in Ted’s hand. One of his guns went skidding to the side of the room. Then Ted went running with wide eyes. The Alice burst out of her encasement and charged after.
I don’t know if it was his grand plan or a form of providence from whatever asshole ruled my life, but their actions left me in a room along with two ugly mole people. I walked over slowly while debating the few poor options let to me.
The red one shouted obscenities at me which were easy enough to ignore. Her partner, who struggled far less to break free, kept trying to sound calming and plead for freedom. The sound of Ted shouting in a high pitched voice bounced off walls. I couldn’t tell which character he was in now.
Finally I decided just to try convincing the two with truth.
“Look, I really want to get out of here.” And just so the rest of you know, I really hate mole people too. Murdering people isn’t really really on my list of Sunday activities, even if they were hairy and gross looking.
“Release us and I’ll send you to your pathetic pink worm gods!” the red one screamed with a gob of highly unattractive spittal.
I considered hitting her with a chunk of ice or at least three seconds while blinking heavily.
“Or,” I exaggerated the word with raised eyebrows. “you two could simply quit being queens. Abdicate, go to a private island, live, love, and-“I faltered once it occurred to me that mole people probably didn’t have private islands.
“A trick! The worm seeks to trick us! Release me!” the red one kept up a tirade.
“Why would I care?” My hands went wide with palms facing up. “Either you quit, and hopefully this fantastic place lets us go, or Alice comes back, then kills you both. She has anger issues and thinks that violence is the best answers, and your deaths you will free us to have lots of little babies. She can’t be killed or removed anyway. Believe me, I’ve tried to push her through portals before.”
Adam Millard Junior would probably die during the first interdimensional teleport. Maybe I could use video calls and the internet to converse with the future spawn. That assumed they didn’t come out of mommy with knives and axes at the ready. I bet their eyes would be all spiral shaped and hypnotically insane as if they were characters on anime.
“I would quit for you,” the white one cut of queen red’s rants.
I shook my head and stopped thinking about what my doomed children would look like. The world around me looked a little bit hazy. The crystals up above were starting to meld together into a singular purple green lump. Fur which had been disgustingly detailed before started to blur.
“She’s got so many knives! I don’t understand where she keeps them all!” Ted shouted in a squeaky voice.
“Adam!” The Alice’s shrieking voice came back down the hallway. “What did you do!?”
Blasts of chilled air bounced around. The Alice dodged past two, twirled past a third, then outright deflected a forth with both enlarged blades pressed together. A red glow still suffused her eyes.
My hands waved towards the two queens. I said, “or be slow about it and die. That’s a good option too.”
Thankfully mole people don’t understand anything humans say half the time, or they might have thought my sarcasm was actual advice. Their vocabulary generally only had ‘death to all surfaces’ and ‘for the motherland!’.
“You want to leave all this?” the Red mole queen turned an unfrozen head towards her lover. The ice around them had started to melt. They struggled to bring their free hands together but were still encased.
“I would, for you,” the quieter one said. “And for our litter,” she pressed a gnarly paw towards her stomach.
I squinted one eye and tried to remember what the rules for this insane place were. A lot of the time the two queens were related, right? Maybe moles didn’t care, or this was simply a rival kingdom issue. That might have been an inserted thought from a deviant version life had placed me in. My eyebrows went up and head shook. I needed rest, cable television, and some fresh fries.
“I’ll quit too.” The red mole queen nodded. “If the herald of failure warns us away from our thrones, then so be it! No more fearing for our lives!”
“Yes. As he says.” The white one smiled.
The herald of failure? I guess my face was rather well known to mole people. I had been around for a lot of failed invasions. Technically every invasion went south except for a small island down the Hawaiian chain. There were still mole people trying to figure out how high up the sun sat and turning the moon into an object of worship. Herald of failure would be a terrible super hero name, even if fitting.
Everything blurred another step. Droplets appeared as if it were raining.
“Adam?” The Alice’s voice sounded uncertain. “Adam, where are you?”
The brief haze that had started earlier kicked into high gear. Crystals up above blurred. More musical tones could be heard but they started to sound vaguely like a radio talk show instead of dramatic clashing music.
“Adam? Where are you?” her words warped as the landscape started to stretch at wrong angles.
“We have to go Ted!” I yelled at them. The queens were fading into the distance. Walls started melting. Visions of leaderless armies fighting each other slid by. They all started spinning around a central point.
“What’s this?” Ted stumbled by trying to keep his body upright.
“The exit’s over there!” I shouted.
I ran towards it. The Alice’s voice got lost in the swirling madness around us. Mole people started merging together. Ted fell and I rushed to get under his shoulder. Warmth trickled down my free arm wrapped around his waist. The feeling sickened me, but if we could make it out of here he might get better. This place was only a nightmare dimension away from reality. Wounds didn't always carry over.
“Adam! Don’t fall for his whore! I’ll kill Missus Robinson!" The Alice's knife slashes were serious enough that small tears appeared in the landscape we were running to. Her blade tore at the horizon around us. "Do you heard me Teddy Bear! I’ll kill her! I’ll make her drown in her own blood!”
The words turned wilder. That stalking music that chilled my bones kicked back in. Visions of swirling black hair stretched out past us drowning out the battlefield of leaderless mole people armies. Both legs pushed harder for the exit. Theoretical immortality be damned, she scared me.
I moved quickly dragging a stumbling Ted next me. His feet fumbled each step.
We came out of the nightmare huffing. The music absent and all that remained was a horn blaring loudly. I quickly stepped forward to avoid a large truck that barreled towards us. Ted stumbled along under my grip then fell towards the curb. He looked absolutely flustered.
Anyone else in the universe could have had a joint without any side effects. My luck meant that one simple bong hit turned into being jailed, chased, and sort of agreed to date a woman who probably didn’t exist in real life.
“Are you okay?” I asked after a moment of evaluation. He looked around with wild eyes which ran counter his normally peaceful demeanor. Maybe he wasn’t used to being chased by knife-wielding women.
Ted sat there with his jaw hanging down. His gaze traveled to the floating camera, and one hand absently reached under a shoulder for the custom switch. He flipped it two times and came out wearing surprising casual attire. The man swallowed while looking at me.
“So, doing great then,” I answered my own question.
His hands went towards what might have been a gut wound. The shirt came up on one side as he studied unbroken but bloody skin. The man's fingers ran over it a dozen times in confusion.
"You made it through a Wonderland," I stated. "Congratulations. That was actually a fairly nice one."
“Does that happen a lot?” He glanced at his chest and frowned. Blood rippled down and stained a shirt. Ted reached up and twisted the dial around to a fresher suit. My own clothes were a mess of caterpillar guts and torn from splinters.
“Wonderland? Two, three times a year. All the other nonsense since we started hanging out? It’s been a busy week.”
“Not that, I mean, well, yes, that too.” His head shook and Ted stood up then looked at the street we had crossed. “That girl, she actually really liked you. You didn’t even want her or try, and lord knows you’ve probably never wooed a woman in your life.”
“There hasn’t been a lot of time to find a nice girl to settle down with.” My eyes closed briefly and threatened to roll. “But don't worry about my sex life, I get screwed all the time,” I clarified.
“She seemed like a nice enough girl, once you get past the knives. We're all mad here though, so it's a little thing to see past.”
“Sure, except the part where The Alice doesn't exist in the real world, and if she did, she would be smart enough to avoid a man like me.” Most women were smart enough to avoid a man like me after the first encounter. The Alice wasn’t exactly sane. You know, it could probably go either way and that kind of scared me too.
Ted raised an eyebrow then frowned at my sarcasm. “Did you even give her a way to reach you?"
“Sure did, in between running for my life while high as a kite and convincing two queens abdicate the throne, I found a few seconds to flip a note behind us.” Surprising, getting the two mole people to quit took less work than expected. Go team herald of failure.
“More of your wit I assume?” he asked.
“Clearly,” I said with a long blink.
My mind was busy wondering about a hero I had met once. He told me in a past life he was hit by a truck, then got reincarnated with super powers. Part of me wondered, had I stood in front of the oversized vehicle and let it hit me, would I too have been reincarnated?
As for The Alice, I didn’t even regret not providing a number. If she was half as mad in real life, The Alice, or whatever her name was, would find a way to reach me. Hopefully she’d be a bit calmer outside the madhouse. You and I both are smart enough to realize, moving on with my life and seeing her again was just a matter of time.
|Oddity Study Highlights|
|Name:||Powered Mental Handicaps|
Translated from Technobabble by Captain Longhall, the sucker currently in charge of Area Fifty One
Next pile to sort and file. I’m writing these at a one to one ratio, one bottle for every file. Eighty four piles of files (pretty files!) to go. I think Sergent Dipshit outside is breeding these stacks somewhere.
Here’s what it says (and I’m being kind) - people with superpowers are often bat shit out of hell crazy. Two levels beyond your worst mother in law and ex girlfriend squared. Think about that one for a while, then wonder which part makes it worse. Go on, this charming report will be waiting for you to get back.
Still here? You must really be the next sucker in charge. Anyway, crazy. People who deal with powers show the same sort of curve. It just gets worse the longer and more you are exposed.
Doctor Mansdrum (I shit you not, man’s drum, really, he’s from Africa. I don’t know what’s worse there either) - anyway, Doctor Babyrattle spends about fifty pages showing a link between reality breaking events and mental dysfunction. He then spends another fifty pages (without pictures, just a lot of boring badly written numbers) telling us why the first fifty pages aren’t even close to how bad it gets. Doctor Elderbongers then goes on to finally provide one graph showing a list of psychosis and their connection to power strength.
Guys with little abilities or quirks or powers or breakthroughs get simple stuff, using powers makes them feel special, or happy, or they get a rush. Woo, happiness. They’re the classic hero types who struggle hard to find a use for themselves. Various programs, schools, or corporations put them through training then watch their newly minted assets like a hawk. We don’t get those here in 51. God what I would give for someone who’s power is simply to make their rack change size. Purely for the knowledge that some powers are really useful, right?
People with bigger powers start hearing voices, get god complexes, think their cosmic shit don’t stink. Some want to take over small countries, others want to make all the swiss cheese in the world turn into toxic vapors. Some like the dude in cell 88224646 think they were given a ton of reincarnations to use in an effort to gun down mutant scum - which happens to be anyone with ten fingers and ten toes.
There’s a formula in here that someone before my watch scribbled. It boils down the last thirteen pages of Doctor ToddlerKettle into a charmingly simple concept.
Exposure x Power Ranking / Mental Fortitude =Risk Factor.
Higher risk factors get neutralized before they do something really dangerous.
God help me, I did the numbers on myself and came up with a risk factor higher than the Redhead Step Father (ironically a pure ginger powered with living hair that wants to wipe out all other ones, cell 56712121 on the west lot, talk to this guy sometime, he’s a riot, he’s a 34.2 and thinks each hair on his head is a soul of someone he’s killed!). Hey, whoever gets this post, you should do the same. Keep track of it every year then ask yourself if bucking for an officer’s star was really the right route to go in life.